Logitech Combo Touch vs Magic Keyboard

Two iPad Pro keyboards go head-to-head, and I show you how to make your hardware keyboard even better.

Logitech Combo Touch Review

Logitech recently came out with an updated keyboard case for the iPad Pro line called the Combo Touch. If it looks familiar, that’s because it is very similar to the Folio Touch, which came out almost a year ago. I wrote about my initial impressions of it after the announcement if you want to learn more.

This keyboard case touts four different modes: reading, typing, viewing, and drawing. Aside from the Reading mode, which isn’t great after a few minutes of holding up like a magazine or book, we will cover everything.

The case covers the entire iPad and has special connectors for the Smart Connector on the back of the iPad, which then powers the detachable keyboard magnetically. You read that right, detachable keyboard.

This case has a lot to offer and could very well be an alternative to the Apple Magic Keyboard given the $199 price point compared to the $299 price tag for the Magic Keyboard. But is it good enough to use over the premium first-party option? Logitech sent me a review unit a couple of weeks ago, and I have that answer as well as my final review for you today.

Look and Feel

If I were to drop my iPad from desk height with this Combo Touch case attached, I wouldn't be worried about whether or not my iPad would survive. It is absolutely secure and safe inside this sturdy and thick case.

I say thick, but it is by no means cumbersome. It feels just a smidge thicker than Apple's Magic Keyboard case, and about the same weight as well.

The outside of the case is covered with a gray “woven fabric” leaving it to look nice in most settings. The color is muted enough to not clash with anything you might have in your office, but also stylish enough to stand out on its own.

One downside with the build is how the keyboard stays flush against the iPad case. When I want to open the keyboard or detach it I have a hard time finding where the keyboard and case separate. I fiddle with it just enough to be annoyed every time I want to use it. I’m sure over time it will work itself out but for now it’s annoying at times.

Keyboard Experience

After using the Magic Keyboard for months, when I made the switch to the Combo Touch it wasn't quite as satisfying to type on. Don't get me wrong, Logitech makes great keyboards and I know this is a reliable keyboard. I never had any issues with mistyping or multiple letters after one press. There is nothing functionally wrong with this keyboard, it just feels mushy by comparison to the Magic Keyboard. Something about the scissor switches Apple uses feels gratifying to type on, and Logitech can't quite compare to it. The feel of these keys aren’t bad I just prefer the Magic Keyboard keys instead. One keyboard that I think is a great comparison to the Combo Touch is the K380 by Logitech. I use this keyboard anytime I need an external keyboard for my iPad or Mac. It’s a work horse of a keyboard for me and works great.

I will say this keyboard is far and away better than any Brydge keyboard I have used to date. Honestly, I think it is a solid second choice for typists like myself. If you aren't interested in spending the extra $99 for the Magic Keyboard you won't be disappointed by the keys, but if you already have the Magic Keyboard you may want to test it out before you buy it.

Keyboard layout

The keyboard layout is uniform for all of the keys. Aside form the modifier keys like Tab, Shift, Command, etc. all alphanumeric keys are the same size.

This can't be said about the Magic Keyboard. Certain keys like the "]" key and both "-" and "=" keys are slivers on the 11" Magic Keyboard. If I were comparing the 12.9" Magic Keyboard layouts here this would be a different story, but sacrifices were made to fit a "full size keyboard" on the Magic Keyboard. If we take a look at the keyboard layout side-by-side I would be shocked to find anyone who prefers the Magic Keyboard layout over the Combo Touch.

Hell, Logitech wins just because of the media keys. One thing that baffles me with the Magic Keyboard is that media keys weren't a priority for Apple. If Apple wants to say the iPad is a computer, the iPad should have media keys by now.

I know that the layout for the Magic Keyboard has significantly less real estate, and Apple has done a good job all things considered. However, I would argue that if Apple had to sacrifice the keyboard layout and media keys perhaps a second or third option might have been worth the time.

Trackpad

Compared the the Magic Keyboard, the trackpad is larger on the Logitech Combo touch. That being said, the size increase isn't anything to write home about. It is nicer to have a larger trackpad, but I never had an issue with the trackpad on the Magic Keyboard. If you have found the trackpad on the Magic Keyboard to be too small though, the size increase might be what you're looking for with the Combo Touch.

What is something to write home about is the "new click-anywhere trackpad" the Combo Touch ships with. Previously, the Logitech trackpad on the Folio Touch had a diving board trackpad, which meant a section across the top of the trackpad wasn't made to be clicked but instead to be used as leverage for the rest of the trackpad.

Now, that section at the top is completely clickable, making for a much more pleasant experience. The Apple Magic Keyboard come out with this ability to click anywhere on it and was the only keyboard I know of (until now) that did this. Both the Combo Touch and Magic Keyboard, unlike the trackpad on a MacBook, it is a mechanical button of sorts that clicks regardless of whether it is powered or not.

I am not sure if this was something that Apple helped Logitech with, but regardless of how this technology made its way to the Combo Touch it is a welcome addition.

Footprint and Kickstand

The only reason the Combo Touch is able to have media keys, a larger trackpad, and a uniform keyboard layout is because of the real estate it gains by having a kickstand that keeps the iPad upright. Granted, the Combo Touch offers the ability to take the keyboard off the iPad case and use it as a canvas, but for right now I want to talk about it in a laptop setting.

The keyboard and kickstand make the iPad Pro longer than it is wide when using it. It is the only instance where you have to worry about the length of your desk or table rather than the width.

I did some measurements of the footprint the Magic Keyboard and my 13.3" M1 MacBook Air have for comparison and found some interesting results.

Length in footprint:

  • M1 MacBook Pro - 8.5” (21.6 cm)

  • 11” Magic Keyboard - 7.5” (19 cm)

  • 11” Combo Touch - 13” (33 cm)

It takes over a foot for the kickstand and keyboard of the Combo Touch to be free and clear to use as a laptop. When the Magic Keyboard has nearly half of that footprint it is hard to consider the Combo Touch portable. For me, I find myself wanting to use the Combo Touch on my desk but move to the Magic Keyboard when I am taking my iPad to work or if I were traveling. While I prefer the keyboard on the Combo Touch, when portability is the name of the game the Magic Keyboard wins hands down.

Lapability

As you could guess after talking about the gigantic footprint the Combo Touch has, the Logitech Combo Touch is not usable on your lap with the keyboard and kickstand. It is entirely too large to get anything done comfortably on your lap.

You can use the touch screen without a keyboard just fine on your lap, so if you just want a couch device this can work for you.

Drawing Mode

The kickstand isn't all bad though. Because of this kickstand (and the ability to remove the keyboard when you don't want it), I can finally have an iPad case that has both a keyboard and the ability to draw on it comfortably.

I love the fact that I can use this iPad in a drawing mode without having to move it to a different case. In fact, that was the largest gripe I had about the Magic Keyboard when it came out. As someone that uses my iPad as a canvas for notes and/or drawing from time to time I love this added feature with the Combo Touch.

I can go from typing up something on the iPad to using it as a notepad in a matter of seconds. When I am using the Magic Keyboard I either have to use it in the keyboard case or flat on the table. Both of those options can wreak havoc on my hands after a short time. The Combo Touch, however, is angled at a comfortable position and can be adjusted thanks to the kickstand.

Speed Round

There are a number of other features and changes this keyboard has compared to other models; but for time sake I have just a quick one-sentence writeup for each feature.

Backlit Keys - The brightness is about the same as the Magic Keyboard and works great.

Updated Media Key - Spotlight search replaces mission control which is a no-brainer change.

Apple Pencil Cutout - This isn't new, but the cutout for the Apple Pencil is great and doesn't affect the protection of the iPad at all.

Speaker and USB-C Port Cutouts - The speakers and USB-C port isn't hindered by the case in any way and allows for crisp sound and most charging cables to fit.

Smart Connector Connection - I was skeptical about this case with the smart connector being on the back, but Logitech makes it work without any issues.

Conclusion

All-in-all, the Logitech Combo Touch has some fantastic refinements to previous iPad keyboard cases and some new features that were much needed.

The keys feel like most Logitech keys, reliable and better than most other keyboards. The build quality is noticeably well though out, and the iPad feels protected and snug in the case.

This case isn't the most portable on the market, but works great on a desk or at a cafe. If you want to type with it on your lap you might want the Apple Magic Keyboard instead.

If you want an all-in-one iPad case the Logitech Combo Touch is one you should absolutely consider buying.

You can buy the Combo Touch today for $199 from Logitech or Amazon.


Workflow of the Week - Customize Modifier Keys

If you are like me and use an external keyboard on the iPad, you can make the keyboard work for you by changing the modifier keys.

If you aren't sure what I'm talking about let me explain. I’m not sure when this started, but iPadOS now allows for you to change what keys like Caps Lock, Control, Option, Command, and Globe Key do. For me, the two I care most about changing are the Caps Lock key and the Globe Key. The Control, Option, and Command keys are too valuable for me to change around.

The Globe Key, which is meant for changing languages on software keyboards, is useless to me for the most part. I don’t speak in a second language and I hardly use Emoji. For me, the Globe key is pointless and takes up space for a key I could get more value from. Thanks to this iPadOS setting, I can change it to something more useful.

To do so, go to:

Settings → General → Keyboard → Hardware Keyboard → Modifier Keys → Globe 

From there, you can change it to a number of options. For me, I just make it an Escape key and use it when I need to escape a text input area or other instance where the much-needed Escape key comes in handy.

If you don't have a Globe key on your external keyboard, or find that you use that more than the Caps Lock key, you can do the same thing I did for the Globe key for the Caps Lock Key.

Personally, I would have loved more ability on iPadOS for modifier keys. For instance, it would be amazing to have a specific shortcut run with a hardware key. I know there are other accessibility options that allows for this, but because it is an accessibility feature it comes with a lot of cruft I personally don’t need. That said, I am happy to see that it is available for those that need or want it.


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